G.A. Minutes 10-13-15
We think it’s pretty cold tonight but we know there will be many colder nights to come.
Temperatures are in the upper 40s; the air is still. Half of the leaves have turned their autumn colors. Springtime will not appear again for at least 100 years.
A small group of the usual suspects are huddled together on the back ledge. They’re drinking covertly; they need to keep warm. When they notice a couple of Occupiers arriving, most pitch in and help get everything rolling.
The first person to sit up close to the fire is the man who’s always laughing. The last time we saw him he wasn’t laughing much. He’s laughing as per usual this evening.
He’s still got the same problem but he’s handling it. His new little baby has been in the clutches of Child Protective Services for 4 months now. The laughing man has jumped through all the hoops they have given him. He contacted the community organizers we advised him to contact and now has good counsel. His court date is at the end of this month. He feels confident he’ll get his baby back.
The man who’s always laughing is African American; his baby’s mama is petite and very blond. An Occupier comments, “This whole thing with CPS has been fishy from the start. I’m guessing there’s a lot of racism involved”.
Laughing Man answers, “Oh yeah, that’s for sure. I’ve been living with racism all my life. You just gotta deal with it”.
Ms. Community Cleanup and her most recent best friend come bouncing off the back ledge. The best friend is incoherent and trying to leap over the fire. We’re not having any of that.
Ms. Cleanup is in her drunken personality so is sizing up all the males in the circle. When she chooses one, she will taunt her prey, attempting to make him angry. If she succeeds, she’ll laugh and run away.
The other people drinking on the back ledge come over to get food. We don’t know them and they don’t say much. They just eat. We’ve brought 38 hardboiled eggs and they are gone within 5 minutes. Oh well…… people are hungry.
The man with the pickled brain stands close to the fire. At times it seems he has a lot to say but can’t manage to get it out. He says, “Thanks for doing this”.
A DPD squad drives by; shortly after that, another one does the same. An Occupier opines, “They’re starting a little early don’t you think?”
The CHUM employment counselor walks up. “So I heard they don’t want you to have this fire anymore?”
An Occupier answers, “Yeah, we heard that too”. We all laugh.
Then another squad car pulls up and 2 officers get out. They walk over to the back ledge and begin talking with the people. We think they’re some of the regular cops that are being forced to put out our fire. It’s dark so we can’t really tell.
Best Friend is still doing his incoherent leaping routine. The cops try to get him to stop but he just gets worse. The cops cuff him, take him out to the sidewalk and tell him to sit down. He sits down, rolls around on the sidewalk and then stands up. The cop who is trying to control Mr. Friend is having quite a time. We think he won’t hit or tase the friend because he knows we are watching.
When Ms. Cleanup realizes the Best Friend is being arrested she does everything she can do to get herself arrested too. The second cop knows her well and keeps telling her to stop.
When she runs up and pushes him, he’s finally had enough. He cuffs her too. She begins crying, “What did I do? What did I do?”
The second cop rattles off a bunch of scary sounding charges. Another squad car arrives. Looks like backup is needed. Things calm down. All the cops drive off, taking Ms. Cleanup and Best Friend with them.
Except for the folks in the fire circle, the Memorial is empty. The CHUM counselor offers to give a few of the street folks a ride to wherever they are going to sleep for the night.
Our friend, the neighborhood retired man appears. After friendly greetings, he inquires, “So I see the police and even the fire department have been bothering you and your fire?” He looks around nervously and continues, “Do you think they will bother you again tonight?’
We tell him we don’t know. He wishes us good luck and hurries off.
The middle aged woman who called the DPD last year every time someone looked at her funny joins the circle. We’ve seen her a few times this year. She’s been much subdued and she seems to have misplaced the chip on her shoulder. We think she is still homeless though.
The old man from the Skinner sighs, “This is so nice, just looking at the fire and meditating”. We all sit in a compatible silence for a while.
The Preacher drops off a couple of bags of cheese curls and we pass them around.
A young woman we have just met this evening remarks, “So what is this all about? How come you guys get to do this?”
We explain the history of our fire to her. We tell her what has been happening with the DPD and the FPD since July 4th.
An Occupier adds, “What this whole thing is really about is the use of public space, common space. You know, “The Man” tries to tell you that you work for him and you belong to him. You’re supposed to just keep your nose to the grindstone, spend all of your life working and making money for him. If you’re not working you’re supposed to stay in your own little box and be distrustful of your neighbors.
“Well that’s not true. People are meant to be together and there must be common spaces where people can be together as long as they’re not hurting anyone else. So we’re just exercising our right to common space. The fire is just something that keeps us warm and brings us together”.
The Skinner man agrees, “Yeah, we have rights”.
Another squad drives by. In a short while another one cruises by ….. real slow. For whatever reason, it looks like they’re going to give us a break tonight.
The big clock on the old Central school strikes 9 o’clock. The fire is down to the last coals. We pack up, with plans to return on Saturday.